Memento of a Murder

Link to today’s strip

Is it just me, or does it seem a little weird that Jessica is apparently only now thinking that she wants a souvenir of the John Darling show? I feel like she would’ve maybe thought of this sometime before, just because she lost her dad at such a young age. Or that it maybe would have occurred to her in the dozens or hundreds of hours she spent creating the documentary about him. I mean, she had to have watched some footage of him when she made that, I would think. But it took stumbling across random reruns of the show to make her think about wanting a piece of the set or his chair or something.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

54 responses to “Memento of a Murder

  1. Epicus Doomus

    And the premise become clear. Perhaps the gun Plant Man used to kill John Darling is available, and…

    Too soon, too soon. Anyhow, yeah, these characters all have such reptilian brains, you know? For decades and decades, Jessica didn’t give a shit, but NOW finding some John Darling memorabilia is her sole purpose in life. Just like that, and all it took was a little outside stimuli. I sure hope she never discovers cocaine.

  2. William Thompson

    Dullard will surprise her this Saturday: “I talked to the station’s old janitor, Dusty Binn, and it turns out he saved all the crime scene tape the police used!”

  3. J.J. O'Malley

    “Mom said she didn’t keep anything from her time producing dad’s TV show” “because it brought back too many memories of his murder”…There, was THAT so hard? The key points are all there, tersely and succinctly stated, and unless new readers (yeah, right!) really need to know John Darling’s or Channel One’s names every day, it doesn’t annoy regular readers (yeah, right!).

  4. RudimentaryLathe?

    I really don’t understand the point of this. I thought Mophead already did an expose doc about Her Father John Darling Who Was Murdered. There’s no reason to think she needs closure now.

    • Closure happened May 4, 2014:

      • Epicus Doomus

        Editor’s note: she later went to Hollywood and filmed a documentary. Just not that one.

        2014, it was that long ago? Man, time f*cking flies, eh?

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Another Batty classic: taking potshots at Hollywood, inconsistent representation of Montoni’s. Batty loves those stupid outside stairs.

        He’s still angry about that Batman TV show right?

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          And that the Crankshaft movie never materialized. I wonder how much of a chance it really had.

          According to TB’s old blog, George Kennedy (police chief Hocken in the Naked Gun movies) was a Crankshaft fan and tried to make this movie happen, so he could play the title role. I suspect that’s where Batiuk got all his “shopping agreement” knowledge from: Batiuk himself had one with Kennedy. It makes sense as an approach Kennedy would take for a pet project.

          But that doesn’t mean any studio was ever interested in picking it up. Movie projects fail to materialize all the time for banal reasons, even movies that don’t have to be ‘sold’ first. But Batiuk is the kind of guy who take it personally that the world failed to recognize his genius, and nurse a lifelong grudge over it.

  5. Y. Knott

    A memento? Like a copy of the very show that she’s watching? Made available on some sort of … I don’t know, media storage device? So she could watch it anytime?

    But how could this ever come to pass? Think, everyone! There’s got to be some sort of solution to this incredible brain-teaser!

  6. Uh, Jessica, you’re watching mementos of your murdered dad’s show. I don’t get it. What more do you want?

    Feel more than free to shut the hell up any time now.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Uh, Jessica, you ARE a memento of your murdered dad’s show.

      Since I assume your parents met at work.

  7. billytheskink

    Looks like Durwood is going to need to dust off his grappling hook and his black duds…

    …because the only surviving pieces of the Darling show set (the “Darling” background and a handful of empty hairspray bottles) are in the Smithsonian, on display between Archie Bunker’s chair and what is believed to be the 3rd oldest copy of the Monroe Doctrine still in existence.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Too culturally significant. I’m thinking between “Rhoda’s” toilet brush and a copy of Andrew Johnson’s inauguration speech, transcribed in red crayon.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Are we talking about Andrew Johnson’s Vice Presidential inauguration speech?

        “As Johnson stood to address the Senate, shock waves swept the chamber. It was immediately apparent that the man about to become next in line to the presidency in those dangerous closing weeks of the Civil War was seriously intoxicated….

        On the dais, Johnson veered illogically from one subject to another. In tones ranging from a shout to a whisper, he described his humble roots. “I am a plebeian. I glory in it. . . . I am a-going for to tell you here today, yes today, in this place, the people are everything.” He ignored Hannibal Hamlin’s repeated tugs on his jacket. Jaws dropped; faces reddened. President Lincoln closed his eyes and sat motionless.”

        Sounds like listening to the speech was a lot like reading Funky Winkerbean in 2022.

        • Maxine of Arc

          This is FANTASTIC. How did I not know about this? Full text of this spectacular moment in American history preserved here:

          The entire reason I continue coming to this blog, and by extension hate-reading Funky Winkerbean, although by now I suppose it’s more like weariness-reading: I always get to learn something from the comments.

  8. Mela

    Silly girl, don’t you realize the best memento from his show is the actual show you’re watching? You’re lucky they weren’t tossed in the garbage bin years ago or erased for reuse. But no, literally watching your father’s professional legacy and seeing him “alive” again onscreen isn’t enough. Maybe there’s a ratty old chair with his butt dent still in it stuffed in the corner of a back room somewhere.

  9. So in these scenes with her doomed Darling dad, Jessica looks and acts like she’s like what, five? And he got killed off in 1990. So the way I reckon Funkiverse time, Jess would be pushing 40. Which actually makes sense. More sense than does the sight of a very chipper Ed Crankshaft conversing with Mason and Cindy.

    • billytheskink

      OK Davis, we get it. You can draw Lois Flagston.

    • Epicus Doomus

      So I believe Boy Lisa returned in 2010 or maybe 2011. Act III was three years old at that point, so that’s fifteen years right there, plus the ten year time jump equals twenty-five. If they graduated when they were eighteen, they have to be at least forty-two or forty-three right now.

      Re: Crankshaft, last I can recall, Ed was hovering near death and reading old catalogs, but apparently he’s pulled a Morton or something. Did he take up smoking?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      “So it goes all the way back to the beginning of dawn”? That’s… not even a pun. Is Crankshaft having a stroke? Is Batiuk? Not that it would hurt either of them in any way.

      • gleeb

        It’s the same “muddled aphorism” stuff that has always been in ‘shaft. It’s never been good.

      • Hannibal’s Lectern

        He’s actually referring to “the beginning of Dawn.” As in the last time Wilbur Weston successfully did the nasty. The comics universe has been going downhill ever since.

    • be ware of eve hill

      It’s kind of funny to me that downtown Centerville is devoid of people aside from Ed, Cindy and Masone.

      It’s like there was an announcement.
      Message from the Emergency Broadcasting System: There has been an Ed Crankshaft sighting in the vicinity of the old Valentine theater. Citizens are urged to seek shelter or return to the safety of their homes.

      ♫ Oh, no! There’s goes Centerville! Go go go, Ed Crankshaft! Ooooo! ♪

  10. sorialpromise

    As JJ O’Malley says,”the key points are there, tersely and succinctly stated…”
    Mr. Batiuk can write, when he wants to. Why is his good writing so seldom seen? Apparently, he can only write to an agenda. 1) Dead St Lisa 2) Les is the greatest good ever created. He is Good personified. 3) Funky and all the others are insufferable (Why?) 4) Dinkle (Why, again?) He can no longer write plots. There is no setup for characterization. Characters are altered with no build up. (Rolanda and Eliminator) There is no follow through past a given Saturday.
    He is not alone. [This might get into rant territory] Look at Marvel. Am I the only one burned out on it? I know why I am. After the first Avengers movie, the agenda kicked in. Instead of telling a complete story, the second Avengers film had to set up 3 or 4 other films. THAT has only gotten worse. Doctor Strange 2 made no sense if you had not watched WandaVision. But their was another change. By the third Avengers film, all of the female characters had to be the strongest heroes of all. E. G. Captain Marvel. She is stronger than Thor. Stronger than Thanos. According to Mr. Feige, she can move entire planets. BORING ( But in her own movie, she was afraid of some gunfire.) Suddenly, Valkyrie and Scarlet Witch are on her level. The only character that the upgrade made some sense based on her writing and acting is Black Widow. This pushing an agenda stands out with a sore thumb because the characters have no real weaknesses like the men. The women have plot armor and not characterization. It is poor writing just like Mr. Batiuk.
    Let’s also consider Doctor Who. Russel T. Davies was the first show runner modern era. He had an agenda: to get gay characters into Doctor Who. He hit the jackpot with Captain Jack. Why? Because he wrote great stories around David Tennant and Christopher Eccleston. The gay characters fit into the plot.
    The same could be said for Steven Moffat. He had Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. Moffat adds Bill, the first lesbian companion. Yet still strong writing and characters. Good stories. Bill fits in well.
    Then came Mr. Chibnall. He is the Tom Batiuk of show runners. All that you needed to know about the Doctor is that she is a woman. The actor deserved better. Stronger plots. Stronger writing. He fleshed out 2 of the 3 companion, but had no idea what to do with Yaz. Until the very last 2 episodes. It is revealed Yaz is apparently lesbian, and has secret hits for the Doctor. That is pure Rolanda writing with the wimpiest payoff.
    Mr. Davies is taking over. What is his agenda this time? The Doctor is gay, and black. AND THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW! Why am I shouting? That’s all he has told us. That is unfair to the actor. He deserves better. I will certainly give him a chance. But I have little hope with agendas. (I pity the fool that reads all of this. But thank you ahead of time!)
    Life and Light

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Having an agenda in your writing is acceptable.

      Having an agenda TAKE OVER your writing is annoying.

      Having an agenda take the place of real writing…is just plain awful.

      Take the first few episodes of HOTD, you’ve got black Velaryaons, but they’re played by great actors and it adds to rather than detracts from the world building. You’ve got women talking about how the system of their society holds them down or forces them into awful situations. But you also see men being held down and forced to do things they don’t want. There’s diversity and some anti-sexist agenda. But it’s all in service of a complete story.

      It’s not TOPICAL THANG as a smokescreen to the fact you have nothing else to offer and no other way to get attention.

      Now a days it’s as hollow as a carnie crying, “We got LESBIANS over here! Come see the STRONG LESBIANS!” and smacking the tent door. Inside, two women holding hands, and opening pickle jars, staring at the audience, nothing more.

      • sorialpromise

        What a great point you are making, CBH. (Plus I watched that video.) Having an agenda take the place of real writing…is just plain awful.” I endorse your point about HOTD. The race of the actors does not impede the story. They are just good actors. Compare it to LOTR:ROP. I have seen both episodes and enjoy the diversity. It is more noticeable than HOTD, but story and acting makes those decisions solid and enjoyable. It’s a slower story, so I will like seeing the actors grow into their characters. (I do want to see dwarf women beards, darn it! Not on all of them, just a couple. At least have one with stubble. I have my limits of acceptance.)
        “Hey, we got strong lesbians over here!”

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I watched it too, and a lot of the points also illustrate problems with Funky Winkerbean. Much like female characters in the bad female empowerment movie, Batiuk’s “good” characters are never allowed to fail or have any weaknesses. They can fear failure, and mope about it constantly, but are never allowed to actually fail.

        Antagonists, in the rare occasion they exist at all, are the flimsiest strawmen imaginable. They are cardboard cutouts with no motivation other than “be the bad guy.” Like how Les’ movie is rejected because “it’s a beautiful work of art”, or Frankie wanting to make an unflattering TV show about his long-ago rape victim. Chick Tracts have better writing and characterization.

        • sorialpromise

          There are times I have wondered if FW wouldn’t be better if TB just had weeklong arcs where there was no dialogue at all. Just strips of characters eating at Montoni’s, or several of the characters watching a film at a theater or sitting on a couch watching TV. No dialogue. For 95% of the characters there would be no change. They never talk anyway. For the others, it would be a relief for us.

        • Something about protagonists scoring flawless victories brought me back to a thing that’s always bugged me about the Darin/Frankie “Hi son, let’s make a reality show!” story: after Jess spent a whole week milking the sentiment of missing fathers to get Darin to go, on the day of reckoning she went from “hello, biodad of my husband” to “if you say one more word, I’m going to break your goddamn nose” in a heartbeat. Just shifting from baseline snark to wide-eyed fury without a clutch as soon as it sunk in they’d been tricked into a business meeting, not a reconciliation.

          Was it even a slightly good characterization? It sure as hell wasn’t consistent, since Jess was shitting on her own idea as soon as Frankie walked through the door, burying the whole experience before it began. But it just struck me that the whiplash reaction when things didn’t go as planned could be read as a window into someone who’d never been genuinely challenged on or by anything, at least not in a way we’ve ever seen.

          It would’ve been an interesting perspective to use with one of the triumphs-all-the-way-down protagonists, and especially with a character that we’re expected to like. Which is why I suspect this is another case of me trying to build a better story from the rubble of one that collapsed in on itself.

          • sorialpromise

            You say it so well. TB gives us the start of what might be a good story, but we SOSF archeologists have to piece through often shattered rubble to construct a more interesting story than what he wrote.

        • gleeb

          I dunno. The Blessed St Lisa herself failed to get a guy off death row when he had a brain injury that should have at least mitigated things.

      • billytheskink

        The best part of that Charlie’s Angels film (which I didn’t find terrible overall, just bland) was Patrick Stewart gleefully revealing that he was holding Naomi Scott’s (I think it was her character) love interest hostage. “He was in here the whole time!!!”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Why is his good writing so seldom seen?

      In addition to everything you listed, I blame what I call his “writerese.” Batiuk feels a need to make everything way more flowery than it needs to be, because he thinks he has to achieve some “arty” standard. He’s also constantly interrupting himself and inserting parenthetical changes of thought.

      The only thing he’s ever written well is his “Batom comics history” blog posts. They’re short, clear, in a logical order, and convey understandable ideas. He wrote them for himself, not an audience, so he dropped the writerese and inadvertently struck on the working formula: simple and straightforward. Which is what writing needs to be 99% of the time. It’s not great by any stretch, but there’s little to criticize about it. Everything else is badly overwritten.

      • sorialpromise

        I will have to check out “Batom comics history”. I find his blog very user unfriendly. But I will find it.
        One thing that Mr. Batiuk lacks in his writing, is motivation. I have mentioned before that I grew up in late 1950’s and into the 60’s. I started high school in 1968. We bought a truck load of comics. Mostly DC and Marvel. This was early Marvel: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko. They always wrote motivation for their characters, both hero and villain. They did it because the other way was boring. Such as: the villain wants to take over the world. Why? He has been rejected. He has been made to feel inferior, and he must express it by competing against the hero. This made the stories better than: I am a bad guy. Here is the world. I guess I will own it. Then Marvel heroes almost always had insecurities. Who can’t relate to that. Compare that to the Flash, Barry Allen in the 60’s. I liked the Flash and read him monthly. He had to pretend to be slow and clumsy. PRETEND!!! Ben Grimm never had to pretend to be insecure.
        What motivation does Mr. Batiuk use? Has there been any motivation since Flunky was an alcoholic? What motivation was there for Les to accept the Oscar? What motivation does Channel 1 have to keep telecasting John Darling? (Did something happen to him?) This is a big failure on the writing of TB.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I think this is Batiuk revealing his Silver Age blindness. There is no room for moral ambiguity in his world. Everything is either black or white. Nobody is more complex than “good guy” or “bad guy.” Everything must be done “correctly”, without ever even clarifying what that means. No wonder the comic book world left him behind.

  11. Jeff M.

    That guy again: you made a documentary about your father, the TV host, in 2014, and yet you have nothing by which to remember him? None of the hundreds of hours of his TV shows that would have had to digitize in order to make it? You would have digitized every scrap you had on the guy. So – unless you had a ritual bonfire of your hard drives, or live near a very powerful magnetic field (entirely possible given that this is DeathCancerMelanomaTown), you have WAY WAY more ways to remember your father. I’m actually less pissed off about this idiocy from an archivist’s point of view than as an actual person, who has two voicemails from his late mother and a few more from his late father by which to “remember” either of their voices. F U Tom.

    • Charles

      It’s amazing how many of the minor plot lines, once they’re finished, are essentially erased from the comic. They have no effect on subsequent strips whatsoever, and as we see this week, Batiuk will frequently go back to these plots and treat them as if they’re brand new. Eight years ago Jessica contemplates, for the first time, her murdered father’s career. This week Jessica contemplates her murdered father’s career for the first time again.

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    “Mom said she didn’t keep any mementos of the John Darling show because it brought back too many bad memories.” What are we to make of yesterday’s strip, then? Or the fact that Jessicindy Crankerbeandoch apparently felt the need to call mom and yak about it some more? And how does this fit with any of the history of John Darling, where this man’s death has already been written and documentaried to the ends of the earth?

    And of course Batiuk has his characters use the phone, because this is the one time it would have made sense to drive over and talk in person. They’ve both been hit with a painful memory, and the story wants us to believe this is an emotional moment, but they’re just so casual about it. Assuming she actually called, and didn’t just text OMG DADS ON TV LOL!!!!!

  13. Hitorque

    So the new retcon is her documentary never happened? Or did she magically film a documentary with zero research whatsoever?

    And I’m sorry, but why is this TV station running a 40 year old local noontime talk show (with no celebrities, mind you) 24/7 again? Hasn’t this killed their advertising and viewership by now? Wouldn’t they get their FCC license yanked? Or is this some public access bullshit?

    Am I the only one who remembers “Channel One” as that 5-minute show back in the early 90s they used to play every morning before class?

    • Mela

      I’m a bit older than “Channel One”! In junior high history class, we got the brief ABC Morning News update, which covered national events, included Day whatever it was of the Iranian Hostage Crisis.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Channel One…

      I am now flashing back to high school harder than an entire week of high school reunion grousing…

  14. Banana Jr. 6000

    And today we learn where this month-long, multi-strip, multiple time line adventure is going: to yet another collectibles arc.

    How many weeks will it take Jessica to go find Chester; introduce herself; explain what she wants; listen to what he says about John Darling collectibles (which of course will exist despite the very concept being absurd); go to the John Darling collectibles dealer or whatever ridiculous thing will exist to meet this need; look over the merchandise; talk about what she wants; buy what she wants; have it loaded it into her car; have them drive home; unload it; place it somewhere for display; and make more wry banter about how personally fulfilling this all is? All of which will be portrayed at length.

    Funky Winkerbean isn’t a storytelling world. It’s a log of transactions.

    • Green Luthor

      Chester: “How about you make a COMIC BOOK about John Darling Who Was Murdered? That’ll definitely sell and not show that I’m using Atomik Komix as a money laundering scheme!”

      (Bonus points when it gives us a sideways Sunday strip!)

    • Anonymous Sparrow


      You mean…there’s a John Darling bobble head?

      Or a gumball machine?

      Or an issue of *Teen Titans* in which John (before he was murdered) helped the heroes deal with a Guru even groovier than the one on “Get Smart”? (Rest in Peace, Larry Storch: Sacred Cows make the tastiest hamburger.)

      Banana Jr. 6000, I think you’re driving me cuckoo bananas! Save me, Manny Santos!

  15. be ware of eve hill

    Does anyone else read Funky Winkerbean Vintage?

    There’s a reporter named “John” interviewing Coach Stropp about the Westview Scapegoats football team. Could it be an early appearance of John Darling? “John” resembles John Darling.

    Actual publish date of the strip is 11/06/1976.

    • billytheskink

      Yes, that’s John Darling. Darling and a handful of other Channel 1 characters debuted in FW before TB created the John Darling strip.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Thanks, billy

        I wasn’t sure. JD isn’t wearing the oversized aviator frames and toothy grin yet

  16. Anonymous Sparrow


    You mean…there’s a John Darling bobble head?

    Or a gumball machine?

    Or an issue of *Teen Titans* in which John (before he was murdered) helped the heroes deal with a Guru even groovier than the one on “Get Smart”? (Rest in Peace, Larry Storch: Sacred Cows make the tastiest hamburger.)

    Banana Jr. 6000, I think you’re driving me cuckoo bananas! Save me, Manny Santos!

  17. Anonymous Sparrow

    So sorry for the double post, guys.